Not every step forward is the same.
Mariners closer Edwin Diaz wasn’t in top form Wednesday night but turned the experience into a growth moment while closing out a 7-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field.
Working for a fourth straight day, Diaz ran deeper counts than usual and gave up two hits, including a homer to Ian Kinsler, before gaining his 12th save in 14 chances.
Diaz yielded just one run over 10 previous outings since regaining his job in late May after a shaky stretch. Even so, manager Scott Servais found much to like in Diaz’s latest effort.
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"(Four straight days) is a big step for anybody," Servais said. "He’s never done that before. We felt very confident that he’d be able to get through it. He wasn’t as sharp (Wednesday) night.
"That’s kind of what I expected, but I thought he did do a better job of slowing himself down when he was losing command a little bit."
The ability to reset on the fly is the key and remains a point of continuing emphasis in Diaz’s work with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
"Mel has given him a few checkpoints," Servais said. "You saw (Diaz) walk behind the mound a few times. That’s what he’s doing. `Why is this happening?’ That’s a good sign.
"Because it’s going to happen again. There are going to be other times when he goes out there and it’s not easy for him. He needs to make adjustments, and he’s learning how to do that."
***Felix Hernandez will be activated Friday from the disabled list in order to make his first big-league start since April 25. The Mariners must make a corresponding space-clearing move.
***Hisashi Iwakuma will be recalled from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma and undergo further medical evaluations on his sore shoulder. He hasn’t started a big-league game since May 3. There is no revised timetable yet for his return.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners